Retirement looks different than it did a few generations ago. Many retirees are opting to work a bit in retirement. You might expect this after such hard economic times. According to a recent study, money is the top reason people over 50 expect to keep working in their retirement. But this phenomenon is not just limited to people that lack retirement funds. A survey commissioned by Barclays Wealth recently found that most millionaires don’t plan to fully retire either.
The truth is, this trend didn’t come about because of the recession. In 2005, well before the recession, a Merrill Lynch survey reported that 76 percent of boomers intended to keep working and earning in retirement. In this survey, boomers thought the ideal work arrangement would be to cycle between periods of work and leisure, or to work part-time. Only 17 percent of those polled expected to never work for pay again. The vast majority said they wanted to keep working for the “continued mental stimulation and challenge.”
Besides money and mental stimulation, a University of Maryland study recently reported that people that worked either full- or part-time in retirement had fewer major diseases and lived longer.
So just exactly how do you know you're retired if you are still working?
You’re enjoying yourself. I picked up a part-time gig a couple of months ago and am having so much fun with it. I don’t remember having this much fun when I was working to make money to survive. If you don’t have to work, you don’t have to work if it isn’t fun. So if you are working in retirement, you’re probably having fun.
You don’t get paid (or very much). Many retirees are getting their work fix with volunteer work. Civic Ventures reports that the health and happiness benefits of working in retirement extend to unpaid volunteer work as well. And many are working for salaries well below their pre-retirement incomes to help nonprofits. When you’re retired, money probably isn’t the motivating factor when it comes to re-entering the workforce.
You can still eat a nice breakfast. Today I went for a walk with my friend. I told her that I made the most delicious breakfast this morning. I roasted cauliflower and then made a white-cheddar and cauliflower frittata. Her response was that I have entirely too much time in the morning. She’s got a point. When I was working full-time, I only had time to eat something portable in the car as I drove to the office.
You don’t care which day of the week it is. Before I retired, Fridays held special prominence, as did Mondays in the reverse. But now, I just work when I feel like it. If I feel like making some progress on Saturday morning, I don’t feel resentful about the job leaking into my weekend, because in retirement it’s hard to distinguish which days are weekends anyway. I might garden, go to yoga, or ride my bike all day on a Tuesday if I feel like it. As a part-time consultant, I pretty much determine which days I feel like goofing off, and they aren’t necessarily weekend days.
You don’t mind having a busy social calendar. Last Tuesday night, we went to a concert with some friends in Berkeley, about an hour or so away. On Thursday, we met some other friends in San Francisco, about 45 minutes away, for dinner. Friday was an hour and a half drive north to meet some other friends for dinner. We hosted a dinner party on Saturday night, and ran up to San Francisco again on Sunday for dinner and a jazz concert with my parents. There’s no way I would have been up for such an active social calendar back in my working days.
You still don’t use an alarm clock. The reason I would never have kept such an active social calendar is because I used to wake up to an alarm clock. Since I’ve retired, I’ve only used the alarm once, and that was to catch an early morning discount flight to Mexico for vacation. It’s nowhere near as hard to hear that alarm when it is beckoning you to the beach instead of an office. If I stay up late for some social events, I sleep in and begin my day when I’m rested.
When you aren’t looking to work because you need to, you have the luxury of looking for a place with people you really like. You have the luxury of working for little or no money if you want. You’re not climbing the corporate ladder, you don’t need to concern yourself with office politics. You’ll do a good job simply because you want to. You can relax, be yourself, and enjoy yourself. Because in retirement, if it’s not fun, you’ll just go find something that is.
This is a post from Retirement: A Full-Time Job